NWA Space, a local nonprofit, is aiming to build a new planetarium in Northwest Arkansas.
The structure would join a larger science center, which is projected to include a robotics lab, an observatory with a refurbished telescope from 1916 and science exhibits.
The organization is currently fundraising in order to attain the required funds to begin construction. Early reports list the cost point between $30 and $40 million for around 35,000 square feet of building. A substantial push is underway to raise the monies necessary to proceed with the project, with a fundraising gala being held on March 14 in Bella Vista.
“Our young people and those interested in careers in science and technology fields need a place to explore the fascinating world of science,” says Katherine Auld, board chair for NWA Space. “Imagine a facility to host junior high, high school and college field trips focused on science, technology and design. Imagine a planetarium where you can look up at the night sky, view science-related shows and even explore the depths of space. Imagine a facility to host robotics competitions, conferences and traveling exhibits.”
NWA Space is working with PB2 Architecture and Engineering, out of Rogers, on the design work.
The science center was initially slated for potential construction on up to 20 acres at Kathleen Johnson Memorial Park in Lowell, but the group might now be open to other location options in Northwest Arkansas.
The planetarium is expected to seat up to 150 people, and the science center would hope to be a destination spot for out of town visitors, such as school field trips. They hope to open the center to the public by 2022.
“Help us bring a science center to NWA to light the imagination and curiosity of all,” Auld urges.